Olaf Scholz: ‘I am among the the few in Germany that has read the whole Bible’

The German Chancellor comes from a Lutheran family. He speaks about the Christian influence in society but remains silent about his personal beliefs.

Evangelical Focus

BERLIN · 13 JUNE 2023 · 14:26 CET

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking at the Church Day of the EKD in June 2023. / Photo: <a target="_blank" href="https://www.kirchentag.de/meldungen/mittwoch-3/bundeskanzler-olaf-scholz-nimmt-stellung">KirchenTag</a>,
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking at the Church Day of the EKD in June 2023. / Photo: KirchenTag

Olaf Scholz, the Chancellor of Germany, knows the Bible and defends the importance of the Christian heritage in Germany. But he refuses to say if he believes in God.

Since 2021, the Social Democrat leads the known as Ampel coalition, a federal cabinet with the Greens and the Liberals.

He was raised in a Lutheran family, baptised as an infant as it is the practice in the Evangelische Kirche Deutschland (EKD, Evangelical Church of Germany, the historic mainline Protestant Church). He was also confirmed as a teenager but later left the church as an adult.

The Chancellor was one of the high-profile guests at the recent Kirchtag (Day of the Church), a 4-day event of the EKD attended by around 100,000 people every two years. There, asked in a personal interview if he wanted to share about his own journey of faith, Scholz simply responded: “No, actually not”.

Scholz underlined that he his own positions about Christianity which he was not ready to share in public, German magazine Pro Medien Magazin reported.

What he explained, nevertheless, is that he has an understanding about what the Scriptures teach. “I am among those few Germans that has read both the Old and the New Testament”, he told the audience.

Scholz also admitted that the Christian faith and the Bible have strongly shaped the cultural life and the thinking of Germans.


A contrast with Merkel’s bold faith statements

Before becoming a head of government, Olaf Scholz served as vice-chancellor under Angela Merkel. Compared to him, she was a much more vocal about faith matters.

Herself a daughter of a Lutheran pastor, Merkel said during the commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: “There is almost no sphere of life which has not been touched by the Reformation Luther started, and this happened beyond Germany and even beyond Europe”.

The Reformation, she added, brought a “freeing message, according to which only by grace and through faith the human being is made just in front of God (…) One cannot buy or win God’s grace with works, grace is simply freely given to the believer”.

She went even further: “We all make mistakes”, Merkel said, “but I find it liberating that we, while being imperfect, receive God’s grace and love”.


Where convictions come from

At the 2023 Church Day, Scholz also spoke about firm convictions he has on certain issues, like the necessity to defend Ukraine. “There are political situations in which I must say: ‘Here I stand and I can do no other’”, the Chancellor said paraphrasing the famous quote of Martin Luther. He did not refer to a background for these convictions.  

“My faith in God makes many political decisions easier”, had said Angela Merkel in 2015. The then most influential political leader in Europe spoke about her belief in God as a central part of her life and work. “Faith and religion are the basis on which I and many others see the sacred dignity of the human being. We see ourselves as the creation of God, and this guides our political actions”.

One year earlier, she underlined tolerance as the basis for a peaceful coexistence in Europe. “I have to be very honest, we all have the opportunity and the freedom to have our religion, to practice it, and to believe in it”, she stated. And went further: “I would like to see more people who have the courage to say ‘I am a Christian believer’. And more people who have the courage to enter into a dialogue”.

Published in: Evangelical Focus - europe - Olaf Scholz: ‘I am among the the few in Germany that has read the whole Bible’

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